At Pittsburgh’s former Forbes Field, ice cream sandwiches were captured in great demand in a 1945 game day photograph. In 1905, the frozen confection was sold on the Atlantic City boardwalk for about a penny.
While the treat may have risen a bit in price since then, the idea of biting into sweet, velvety vanilla ice cream pressed between two large chocolaty cookies is almost more than you can bear if you don’t have one at hand. And on a sizzling summer day one might say a freezer full of them runs a close second to a seat by the air conditioner, so it’s no wonder this refreshing treat gets a special day in its honor. August 2, right in the thick of the sweltering “Dog Days” of summer, is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.
Known commercially in Australia as Giant Sandwiches, Maxibons, and Monaco Bars, as a “vanilla slice” in New Zealand (vanilla ice cream with two pink wafer biscuits packaged separately), “potong” in Singapore with ice cream flavors ranging from red bean, yam, sweet corn, honeydew and more, and as “sliders” in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the beloved ice cream sandwich is a small gastronomical gem of global proportion. Morphed over the years into dozens of forms in the U.S., using ingredients from crisp chocolate chip cookies to moist cake to rich, fudgy brownies, and from ice cream flavors that don’t stop at vanilla, the ambrosial ice cream sandwich is sometimes served dipped in nuts, coated with chocolate chips (hence the “Chipwich” born in the 1980s) or smothered in hot fudge or caramel sauce.
Celebrated for its portability at beach concession stands, ice cream sandwiches are a sweet, frosty, handy dessert that usually doesn’t make it all the way back to the blanket (best to keep it wrapped and share when you get there!). At Sabattus, Maine’s famous Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream, named for the owners’ unbridled love of the game and where products are monikered in baseball terms, homemade behemoth chocolate chip cookies known as “Raider Biscuits” are stuffed with 4 inches of ice cream. Because the stand closes during the interminable Maine winters, one “fan” is known to special order 60 or 70 of them to see her through.
But whatever way you like them, ice cream sandwiches are a special, time-honored treat that can be purchased or made at home with your family for some extra joy–especially when the temperature soars. Try this recipe for a yummy summer evening, and don’t be shy about substituting fun flavors like black raspberry, mint chocolate chip, or whatever your family favorites might be instead of vanilla!
Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 package (18.25 ounces) chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
Nuts or sprinkles for rolling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, butter, vanilla extract, eggs, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips. Roll dough into 2-inch balls and place them onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven. Do not overbake; the cookies should be set, but still soft. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to finish cooling on wire racks. Using an ice cream scoop, mold the softened ice cream into a ball about the size of the cookies. Place scoop of ice cream between two cookies and gently press together. If you like a smooth edge, run the back of a spoon around the edge of the ice cream sandwich. Working quickly, fill all of the cookies, roll sides in nuts or sprinkles if desired, lay out on a baking sheet, and place in freezer to harden. Serve when ice cream has frozen solid. Sandwich cookies can be stored in a freezer bag for up to two weeks.